Thursday, 26 May 2016

Carry on rocking that spring bunting ...

The other week I started making spring bunting. Well I've carried on down that route, and now I've got quite a merry little string of contrasting patterns and textures.

Spring Bunting

I used my basic pattern, but played around with it to mix things up and add variety.

I'm using Costa Brava Knitting's 4 ply organic cotton range - colours Rose Blush and Honeysuckle, and I'm knitting on size 11 (3 mm) needles to a tension in stocking stitch of 26 stitches x 36 rows on a 10 cm x 10 cm square.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Step into my office ...

I love, love, love the month of May - especially when the sun puts in an appearance. My kitchen door is thrown open, and I live on the terrace. How do you like my office? Please do step outside ...

I come out here on sunny days during the rest of the year - often wrapped up warm with coats and scarves against the elements. I leave the parasol in situ all year round - just on the off-chance,  although it's sometimes more of a rainy day umbrella. It feels fabulous to be able to take up my al fresco lifestyle every time the sun comes out and there's just a smidgeon of blue sky.

Today I've been busy snipping some of the blooms from my lovely Munstead Wood Rose to make pot pourri. You can read all about my pot pourri recipes and method here and here. I've not used this rose before, but with its great fragrant flowers and voluptuous deep red petals I've got a feeling that it's going to be a corker.

I have written about this rose before (a lot, sorry!); it really makes my heart sing. It's got a great big old-world smell that combines with velvet petals to be everything that a rose ought to be.

I've also harvested some sweet woodruff for my pot pourri today. It's a wonderful little herb that I bought for a number of different reasons. I'm fascinated by herbs, always have been, and like many of that ilk I've got a one-of-every-variety approach to planting them in my garden. Sweet Woodruff arrived, if I'm honest, just because it ticked another box on my list, but since then I've come to value it for ground cover. It grows happily in the shade, and its glossy green leaves not only look attractive, but help to keep the weeds under control.

In May it produces small white flowers, which look lovely with the Lily of the Valley which is also in flower at the moment. I've got the two of them growing rather charmingly together at my front door.

When you harvest fresh woodruff it doesn't smell of much, but when it dries out it has the light aromatic smell of freshly mown hay in a summer meadow. In the old days they used it as a strewing herb to spread around on the floor and release its wonderful scent when people walked on it. It's also been used with lavender to store linen and repel moths.

The other fixture in my outdoor office that I'm particularly enjoying at the moment are my Oriental Poppies. My mum gave me a few roots of these last year, and they've grown beautifully in my borders. They're such dramatic, striking plants from their silvery foliage, to their great fat buds and amazing bright red flowers.

I'm planning on trading her an Acanthus this year. Mine seem to have multiplied so I'm in the happy position of being able to dig one up for her. I hope she likes it.

And it's very exciting because Emi, the WonderDog and I have a big road-trip back to Ireland planned for Friday. Emi's been working really hard for his end-of-year exams, and when school breaks for half term on Thursday we're all set to blow town. Yeah! Let the easy summer-living begin!

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Sunday, 15 May 2016

New stitch pattern ...

Yesterday I decided that I wanted to make a summer cardigan. It's going to be one of those relaxed loose-fitting numbers. I'm going to use some wonderful Costa Brava Knitting DK Bamboo in Sandy Beach, and I'm searching around for a nice openwork pattern that will work well with the variegated wool and the summer vibe that I'm hoping to channel.

One of my favourite parts of searching around for a new design is the bit where I get to play and try different stitch patterns with the yarn that I'm proposing to use. With the sun beating down through the glass roof of the conservatory yesterday afternoon the WonderDog and I enjoyed a merry old time playing or knitting sample squares to see how things turned out and to check my tension. I'd got a stash of Radio 4 podcasts to listen to, the child was elsewhere at a birthday party and it was the very best sort of me-time imaginable.

And this is what we eventually settled on:

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Georgian Embroidery Workshop ...

Last Wednesday I headed over to Osterley Park, where their lovely volunteers were hosting a Georgian embroidery workshop. It sounded amazing, and, whilst my terrible eyesight makes embroidery a bit of a challenge for me, I was intrigued to learn about a group of ladies who were keeping alive the skills of the eighteenth century needlewomen. Bravo to them!

As it turned out the workshop was on whitework, which involves white stitch-work on the finest and most delicate of cotton cloth to produce an effect (when done well!) not dissimilar to that of fine lace. With my limited experience and wonky eyes it would have been difficult to have come up with something that was a greater personal challenge for me. However, the wonderful ladies assured me that they would not be put out in the least if I failed to place a single sensible-looking stitch in my fabric. The object of the workshop was to learn, to be inspired and to enjoy.

The ladies leading the class had very kindly brought along their own favourite books on the topic, which they invited us to look at for some inspiration.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Ham House ...

They say it's haunted ... very, very haunted ... .

Ham House, Richmond
Ham House, Richmond viewed from the Duchess's Garden

And I guess if a house's been standing since 1610, just playing the statistics there's got to have been one or two residents over that length of time who were reluctant to move on - especially when the setting's as splendid as this one. So if you're going to go looking for spooks and ghosts and things that go bump in the night ... then this house is probably a pretty good place to start.